As I was sitting and flipping through Google pages and searching for places to go for the weekend in Maharashtra, sula vineyards seemed a perfect destination for a 2 day holiday considering its proximity from Mumbai. But as with most touristy places, the resort I wanted to visit at Sula was booked for the whole month on all weekends. Sula has 3 resorts – We stayed at Beyond by Sula. The others being skyvilla(3 bedroom villa with a private pool) and the source(it has 31 rooms, including duplex tower suite and tree house). As it was feasible for me and my mother to go on a weekday, I immediately booked a room for us in the middle of the week and we were off to India’s first winery.
The reason I booked the resort ‘beyond ‘was I wanted solitude which wasn’t the case with ‘the source’, as said by different travellers that there was constant ‘loud music’ going on from the restaurant which is situated close to the rooms. We travelled till nasik by train and from there by Ola. Sula vineyards does offer cab facilities but they charge exorbitantly high – that’s more than 4 times the price Ola charges! The last lap of 10 kms of the road which leads to the resort is very scenic. We went during monsoons and the natural beauty was at its full bloom. The gangapur dam was running by the road till we reached the resort. The road took us through villages and one can see huts spread all around the area. I saw women milking the cows and cooking on ‘chulha’, children playing in the open fields and men working in the farm. Beyond by sula is a small resort with 7 rooms and a 3 bedroom villa. This resort is perfect for people who want to relax in a quiet atmosphere unlike the main resort where the vineyards are located! If someone is travelling in a big group and want to have your private pool and also a private butler and your own private space than the 3 bedroom villa is the best bet.
We decided to do the tour of the wineyards in the evening and what I liked the most of the tour is how the presenter smoothly took us through the process of wine making right from plucking different kinds of grapes for different kinds of wines to the final bottle of wine which reaches the market. The one hour tour was quiet a good learning experience about the wine making process. After the wine tour and exploring the property we headed to their restaurant which had spectacular views of the whole property and I must say the view from the top reflected Mr Rajeev Samant’s effort and hard work to maintain his well planned winery estate with minimal harm to the environment.
Ok, so I had assumed that the grape stomping sessions happens every day all round the year but that was not the case. So people looking for grape-stomping should visit the vineyards from December end to march end. What I felt is if you are not seeking relaxation than a day trip to the estate will be more than enough as the property doesn’t have much to offer apart from views from the terrace of the restaurant and the winery tour. So after whiling away the time we decided to head back to our resort and relax by the pool! For a person like me who is hydrophobic likes to sit by the pool with some good music and a novel and glorious views and that’s what I call relaxing by the pool ;-)
We didn’t had our vehicle overnight with us so we decided to eat at their in-house restaurant which serves limited options but the food is good enough to satiate your taste buds. A word of caution-there is nothing else you can get in the vicinity, the nearest restaurant being the 2 in-house restaurants at “the source” which is 4 km away. I and my mother were sitting outside the room chatting about the place just when a man besides our room comes to join in our conversation. He said he belonged to Mumbai and lived all his life in the city and how he is so used to the noise of the city that he disliked the solitude sula offered. We all had a good laugh when he said how so much peace the place offered makes him anxious. And it reminded me of Suketu Mehta’s words from his book: Maximum city-“The greatest luxury of all is solitude”, “a city this densely packed affords no privacy” – so untrue for people who have made how Mumbai functions as their way of life!
And with a great conversation and dinner we ended the day happily, to get up the next morning to say goodbye to the vineyards with some good information about how one of the finest winery of India makes the wines.